71-year old Japanese athlete to compete at London 2012 ... 48 years after his first Olympic appearance
Professional sportspeople who feel they have a divine right to retire sometime in their 30s will think again after hearing the tale of this heroic Japanese athlete.
In London this summer, a Japanese man who will be 71 years young by the time the games begin, is set to compete 48 years after his first Olympic appearance on home turf in Tokyo in 1964.
70-year old Hiroshi Hoketsu won the right to compete at the Games this summer after finishing in first place of the International Equestrian Federation's Asia-Oceania dressage rankings. Hoketsu is once again set to hold the honour of the oldest competitor in London, having also held the distinction at the ripe old age of 67 in Beijing four years ago.
Amazingly, despite an equestrian career that stretches back nearly 50 years, this will only be Hoketsu’s third appearance at an Olympic games after Beijing in 2008 and Tokyo in 1964. He was only a substitute on the Japanese team when he was a sprightly 44-years old for the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984 and was forced to retire for the Seoul games four years later due to quarantine issues with his horse.
Hoketsu has yet to be selected for the Japanese team for the summer, but spokeswoman for the Japanese Equestrian Association, Azusa Kitano, doesn’t foresee any problems.
"We will make a formal decision on his selection as soon as possible. I understand he is willing to go," she said.
While competing in the Olympics at 71 is a magnificent achievement, Hoketsu won’t become the oldest man to ever compete in the Games unless he decides to return to the saddle for the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in four years time.
In 1920, not only did 72-year old Swedish shooter Oscar Swahn compete in the Antwerp Olympics, he won a silver medal in the double shot running deer contest, a competition which, unfortunately for veteran steady hands like Oscar, was disbanded by the Olympic Committee in 1948.
So the next time you think you're too old to go out for a jog or to dust off the cobwebs on those football boots, think of guys like Hiroshi and Oscar, and think again.